Overcoming the problems of inconsistent international migration data: a new method applied to flows in Europe

de Beer, Joop, Raymer, James, van der Erf, Rob and van Wissen, Leo (2010) Overcoming the problems of inconsistent international migration data: a new method applied to flows in Europe. European Journal of Population, 26, (4), 459-481.


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Due to differences in definitions and measurement methods, cross-country comparisons of international migration patterns are difficult and confusing. Emigration numbers reported by sending countries tend to differ from the corresponding immigration numbers reported by receiving countries. This paper presents a method to achieve harmonised estimates of migration flows by comparing the differences in data reported by both sending and receiving countries. For each country we estimate one adjustment factor for immigration and one for emigration in such a way that the adjusted immigration and emigration numbers are closer to each other than the numbers reported by sending and receiving countries. A number of specific origin-destination flows have to be considered separately since the adjusted numbers are not consistent with each other. For these cases we introduce additional constraints. Our methodology is illustrated for migration between 19 European countries from 2002 to 2007. The methods compensates for both cross-country differences in definitions and the effects of measurement errors due to e.g. under reporting and sampling fluctuations. The results represent a reliable and consistent set of international migration flows that can be used for understanding recent changes in migration patterns, as inputs into population projections and for developing evidence-based migration policies.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0168-6577 (print)
1572-9885 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Social Statistics
ePrint ID: 161317
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
2010In press
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2010 13:41
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:28
Centre for Population Change: Understanding Population Change in the 21st Century
Funded by: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (RES-625-28-0001)
Led by: Jane Cecelia Falkingham
1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/161317

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